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Old 04-28-2009, 03:59 PM   #1
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A great way to restore yellowed plastic

Hi all. Pretty much all of the plastic in our 1976 Sovereign was very yellow and I really didn't want to paint it if at all possible. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet we came across this site RetrObrite: Open Source Problem Solving - PSFK.com

We figured if it worked for computer plastic it should work for the plastic in our trailer so we gave it a try with excellent results. The concoction is cheap and easy to make with ingredients found at your local drug store and beauty supply. The instructions are available on the website but I would be happy to post the recipe and instructions here. You simply make up the gel, brush it on the plastic and put it out in the sun.

Here are some pictures that show the results we were able to obtain. The first shows an untreated piece in the lower left corner then clockwise a piece treated one time and two pieces treated twice. Once it is back to the original color it won't lighten any more. The second picture shows a piece that was treated except for the back that won't be seen. Some of the mixture dripped down and illustrates how well it works.

We did all of our plastic including the large pieces in the bathroom and I am amazed at how great they look. Yay no painting!

Lisa
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:18 PM   #2
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Great idea thanks
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bugz42 View Post
I would be happy to post the recipe and instructions here. You simply make up the gel, brush it on the plastic and put it out in the sun.

Lisa
Looks great Lisa. We would like to give it a try.
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:31 PM   #4
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Could you give us the information on making up the gel. I read the article, but never quite got to a formula of making it. I guess I missed something.
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:04 PM   #5
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You have to check out the other links. I eventually found the recipe. I am so trying it!!!
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:16 PM   #6
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Here's the link to making it.
Retr0Bright - Retr0Bright Gel
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:22 PM   #7
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Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that can cause burns to the skin and can cause blindness if splashed in the eyes so please wear gloves and eye protection when handling it. The following recipe has been tested and is safe to use when prepared properly. If you decide to deviate from the recipe I don't know what might happen.


The recipe for the gel I used is:

8oz Hydrogen Peroxide 10 to 15% (I used 40 volume from Sally Beauty. Make sure it is a clear peroxide and not a creme. You want as few additives as possible)
1 1/2 tablespoons of Arrowroot powder (This is for thickening it into a gel. Cornstarch might work just as well.)
1 teaspoon of Glycerine Oil (available at a pharmacy)
1/4 teaspoon of an Oxy-type laundry booster powder
1 teaspoon of hot water (to dissolve the oxy powder before mixing it in)
gloves (grabbed a box while at Sally Beauty)
small paintbrush
eye protection


In a glass bowl or plastic container mix the peroxide, arrowroot and glycerine oil. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave another 30 seconds and stir. Let it sit for just a bit and stir it again. The mixture should begin to thicken and may be sufficiently gelled at this point. If it still seems too watery microwave for another 15-20 seconds. It won't smell very good but it doesn't produce nasty vapors or anything. Let the mixture cool for a bit while you dissolve the oxy powder in a bit of hot water. The gel will not activate until the booster powder is mixed in. Once the dissolved powder is mixed in your gel will foam up a bit. The warmer the gel the more it will foam so make sure it isn't super hot. I used a metal whisk to mix it in really well. Grab your brush and coat all areas you want brightened with a fairly good layer of the gel. Put your pieces in the sun and leave them there for several hours. I left mine all day. Rinse off the gel and reapply if needed.

Doubling this recipe in an 8 cup glass measuring bowl coated all of our plastic pieces one time. Make sure all of your plastic is clean and dry before you start. I have found that three applications got mine back to the original color but YMMV. We haven't applied any sort of plastic protectant at this point but if anyone has any thoughts on this please let me know.

Lisa
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:31 PM   #8
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that is really cool!!

but...it looks like about as much effort as painting. I might still be tempted to paint with something that won't just re-yellow. OTOH...this would restore the "original" color, which I'm betting would match the other non-abs parts in the bathroom. (laminate walls, etc...they're not really "white"...more of a bone or "off-white". whereas, most plastic/tub refinishing products I've seen are "white white white!!". almost "too white").

So, what are you planning on using to coat these restored parts, so that they don't just turn yellow again?
I wonder if something like "nu-finish" would be good? I'd just be afraid that in "heavy use" areas...sinks and showers, that whatever protection you use would wash off. of course, you wouldn't be able to "see" whether or not this was happening. The guys that came up w/ this process seem focused on old computer parts, which they're presumably not washing/scrubbing like you might want to do w/ a bathroom fixture...
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:43 PM   #9
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Trust me this is MUCH easier than painting. I'm lazy and I did all of it :-) I am going to do our third and final application in the morning and will post some before and after pictures of everything. I am not sure what if anything we are going to use to keep them bright. I am open to any suggestions! In any case it took many years for the stuff to yellow so down the road we can always brighten them again if need be.

Lisa
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:59 PM   #10
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How is this different than painting? don't mean to be argumentative...I'm truly curious.
both processes involve mixing up chemicals into a gooey substance, that you apply with some sort of applicator to the surface...then wait. maybe multiple coats.
sure, I've seen some threads where the super-handyman airforums guru's use fancy spray equipment, but most of the paint products I've seen say that you can use a brush, and the paint is self-leveling. There are spray paints that are specially formulated for plastic, and I used one to do my air conditioner cover...worked beautifully, and was extremely easy. But that part is not subject to the wear and tear that bathroom fixtures are, and its also extremely easy to remove and lay on a bench to paint, and re-install. Removing the bathroom...not so much.
(I know of a krylon-painted bathroom that isn't holding up all that well in the long-term, so I'm not suggesting that...but its great for stuff that doesn't get that kind of heavy wear and tear, like my a/c shroud).
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Old 04-28-2009, 08:06 PM   #11
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Lisa,
Thanks for the great post!
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Old 04-28-2009, 08:48 PM   #12
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When painting you have to be kind of careful. With this you just slop it on. If you mess something up or miss a spot you just do it again. The gel rinses off with water and you are good to go. No color to pick or compromise on since it's the color it's supposed to be and the gel is really cheap. Yes we have our trailer gutted for a remodel so sticking it in the sun is pretty simple but it can be painted on a surface and have UV light shined on it to get the same results so you don't actually have to dismantle the trailer.

Lisa
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:14 PM   #13
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Better Way to whiten plastic. Spill bleach on it full strength. Next time I will be more careful. #@%&*
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bugz42 View Post
When painting you have to be kind of careful. With this you just slop it on. If you mess something up or miss a spot you just do it again. The gel rinses off with water and you are good to go. No color to pick or compromise on since it's the color it's supposed to be and the gel is really cheap. Yes we have our trailer gutted for a remodel so sticking it in the sun is pretty simple but it can be painted on a surface and have UV light shined on it to get the same results so you don't actually have to dismantle the trailer.

Lisa
good points. I was kinda thinking that....and cheap--cheap is good.

Its great to see a new solution to an old problem.


(oh, and the bleach thing: I read the whole article referenced, and they said that bleach would damage the plastic by making it more brittle. apparently, a similar chemical reaction happens, but the result is that one type of molecule gets replaced with a smaller one, effectively removing some of the plastic. )
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